A Temporary Cold Weather Shelter could be coming to the United Church basement. (File photo)

Temporary Cold Weather Shelter in the works for Revelstoke

The Women’s Shelter Society, BC Housing and the city are working on making it happen

Revelstoke is several steps closer to having a temporary winter shelter this fall.

As part of the provinces Extreme Weather Response Program that will see 750 shelter spaces across the province, the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society has secured the basement of the United Church, at 314 Mackenzie Ave., to host the shelter.

City council will be seeing a staff report on amendments to the Official Community Plan and the Zoning Bylaw to allow for the project and a neighbourhood consultation will be done by the society in partnership with BC Housing, who is providing the funding.

White Rock First United Church extreme-weather shelter in February 2018. (File photo)

The plan

Marianne Wade, director of development services, presented the project to the Committee of the Whole on Aug. 15.

Since securing the space at the church, there have been meetings with a building official as well as the fire chief who provided guidance to the society and BC Housing on building code and other safety requirements, Wade said.

One significant finding was that fire alarms need to be installed in the space, which will require additional capital funding from BC Housing.

So far the proposed shelter will be open Nov. 1-March 31 and client hours will be from 8:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. The shelter will be staffed from 8 p.m.-8 a.m. with an additional 12 hours of work a week for the coordinator to do other tasks.

There will be room for 10 individuals.

READ MORE: B.C. opens 2,000 shelter beds ahead of cold winter season

The shelter will be open to homeless people age 19 and over, with partitioned areas for privacy. However, according to the draft program that was presented to the committee, there are additional considerations or exceptions:

  • If the RCMP assess that the person is at risk to themselves or others
  • If the provider is unable to care for the person’s medical needs
  • If there are children under 19 with the family members, though other actions may be taken to accommodate the family
  • If a lone youth shows up they will be sheltered until alternate arrangements can be made

Along with bed mats, pillows and sheets for each individual, they will be provided with coffee or tea and a light meal in the evening and again in the morning. The proposal says the food will be provided by the Revelstoke Food Recovery Program.

Clients will also be provided with basic toiletries and a towel for washing.

Those in need of additional support will be connected with appropriate local resources, including the Community Connections Homeless Outreach Worker.

READ MORE: Extreme weather shelter proposed for Revelstoke

A second shelter facility in downtown Maple Ridge will offer 25 beds during extreme weather. (NEWS files)

The shelter will be overseen by two staff, who will be hired by the Women’s Shelter Society. They will be on shift each night, one for 12 hours and the other for eight hours for direct client supervision.

Volunteers will also be recruited for two to three hour shifts in the evening to assist with intake and food preparation and distribution.

READ MORE: Revelstoke Royal LePage and Women’s Shelter raise funds to help break the cycle of violence

As the plan reads so far, beds will be provided on a first come first serve basis until they are full. Once the intake process is complete the client must stay within the program area, though there will be an opportunity for a supervised smoke break before bed.

There will be a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol consumption on site.

The team as well as Community Connections will work with each client to find a more permanent solution.

Pets will be sheltered with their owner as needed.

“While Community Connections Society provides support through BC Housing’s Homeless Outreach Program, one of the biggest challenges in delivering this program is the lack of housing options,” the draft management plan reads. “In summary, there are few to no options for vulnerable, homeless people in our community. Delivering BC Housing’s Winter Program is an opportunity to provide temporary support for our most vulnerable as well as enable us to more deeply assess the reality of homelessness in our community.”

The extreme weather shelter in Campbell River is set up for the winter season right beside the fire department. (Black Press photo)

Next steps

At the moment the city’s Zoning Bylaw does not allow for temporary uses, including this proposed shelter, therefor city staff are amending the bylaw to create a temporary use permit.

“This is good timing for us,” Wade said.

The temporary use permit could also be used by businesses to create temporary employee housing. Once it is approved the Development Procedures Bylaw would also have to be amended which would provide the opportunity for staff to tweak other things that need to be changed in that bylaw.

The Women’s Shelter Society and B.C. Housing will also be conducting a neighbourhood consultation before the funding from the province is approved for the project.

READ MORE: Women’s Shelter Society rents new outreach space downtown Revelstoke


 

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